The Yankees are on game four of arguably their toughest stretch of the year, with twenty games in twenty days, including:
- three at second-place Boston (done),
- three at home (starting tonight) against AL East cellar-dwelling Baltimore,
- seven (!!) against their nemesis, the AL West leading Angels (four home, three away),
- four at AL West second-place Texas, and
- three at AL Central second-place Minnesota.
On paper anyway, this should be the easiest series in that stretch. But the Yanks are 4-5 against these O’s and – still occupying third place – need to get right back on track after falling short of the Fenway sweep last night.
The last time these teams met in late May, when Chien-Ming Wang and Ian Kennedy bookended the Yankee rotation, Joba Chamberlain was the Yanks’ feared 8th-inning set-up man, and Hideki Matsui was batting 5th on most nights, it was the Yankees pulling up the rear of the division, but they are a different team now in more ways than one.
Control wizard Mike Mussina, 3-0 with a 1.04 ERA in his four July starts, has been bumped up ahead of Rasner to stay on his normal 4 days rest and go for win number 14 on the season. He is matched up against Jeremy Guthrie (6-8, 3.58 ERA) who last Wednesday lost his first game in nearly six weeks and who pitched well in an ultimately losing effort the last time these teams squared off (7.0 IP, 6H, 3 ER).
Xavier Nady will hear his name in roll call for the first time and much more if he manages to get his first hit in pinstripes and YFs will be waiting for word on the Jarrod Washburn front (dare we dream that we have seen the last of Sidney Ponson?).
Absolutely beautiful night for a game – comment away!